The majority of Americans understand that a will is the best way to ensure their assets are handled appropriately after their death. Many individuals, however, either avoid this crucial step or put it off until it’s too late. The time to hire a will attorney is now.

If you’re in the process of creating your estate plan or are still researching your options, the tips below can point you in the right direction and help you avoid the common mistakes that can result in a will or trust litigation lawyer dragging your estate through the court system.

1. The Time To Consult A Will Attorney Is Now, If Not Yesterday

Regardless of how seemingly insignificant your current assets are, you should prepare in advance to protect your legacy and your family’s best interests. You need to decide how you want your assets divided and who will inherit what from you. In order to make it easier for the executor of your estate to retrieve and distribute your assets, make sure you have a complete inventory of your assets. If you have a will attorney, make sure they have a copy of your assets as well.

If you’re young and have significant assets, handling your estate properly becomes even more complex. Parents, children, and siblings may all expect something, and if you don’t have a will, you can expect at least one litigation attorney, if not more, will become involved.  An estate planning lawyer can ensure your will is drafted properly and executed correctly so there are no if, ands or buts. State laws can also cause problems, so be sure you work with an Illinois will attorney who is familiar with every aspect of wills and estates in your area.

If you have a substantial estate with assets in many different forms, it’s essential that you talk to a will attorney who can understand the complexities of your assets. You may also want to discuss your assets with a financial planner, who can work along side your attorney at your request. Be sure to have deeds and other paperwork needed to transfer properties when you consult your attorney. Having your paperwork organized and prepared will allow the estate planning process to go smoother and allow the lawyer to draw up a truly comprehensive will that won’t run into problems.

2.Drafting Your Estate Plan Without Consulting A Will Attorney Can Be Unfortunate

Instant access to all kinds of information on the Internet can lull you into a false sense of security. While there are websites that allow you to prepare a simple will, you won’t get the personalized service and comprehensive knowledge of the law that you receive from a will attorney. Keep in mind that every situation is different, and a “one size fits all” approach to your will can mean crucial portions of your estate won’t be covered by the standard wording of an Internet form.

A will attorney can go over your assets with you in detail and suggest a variety of options that will maximize the value of your estate and minimize problems during probate. The document drawn up by your attorney will clearly outline your wishes and take any unusual circumstances into account. If you opt for a “fill in the blank” will, you dramatically increase the odds that someone in your family will hire a litigation attorney, resulting in a long, distressing legal battle.

3. Back Up Your Information

If you’ve prepared your will and have it stashed in a safety deposit box somewhere, you’ve made a common mistake. If, when you pass away, no one else has access to or knows about your safety deposit box, your estate can become a legal nightmare. Even having only one copy of your will in an easy to access location isn’t enough to fully protect you. Damage or loss can reduce your will to nothing. Your will attorney should retain one copy, you should hold one yourself, and a trusted family member or friend should have a third copy.

Preparing your last will and testament on your own is always risky. Contact a will attorney. He or she can guide you through the complex laws surrounding your assets and craft a document that ensures your heirs will honor your wishes and benefit from your estate as you intended.

Disclaimer: While the following tips can help guide you as you prepare a will, it is not a substitute for legal representation or legal advice. Please consult with an attorney who can advise you regarding your specific situation.